BFSI SECTOR TURNS Green
Banking Frontiers|October 2021
The BFSI sector is keenly adopting green policies, practices and technologies with the aim of being more sustainable and protecting the environment:
Ravi and Manoj

Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology defines Green Banking as an umbrella term referring to practices and guidelines that make banks sustainable in economic, environmental, and social dimensions. It aims to make banking processes and the use of IT and physical infrastructure as efficient and effective as possible, with zero or minimal impact on the environment. According to Indian Banks Association, a Green Bank is a bank, which considers all the social and environmental / ecological factors, with an aim to protect the environment and conserve natural resources. It is also known as ethical bank or sustainable bank.

Jyothirlatha B., Chief Technology Officer at Godrej Housing Finance; Rahul Agarwal, Chief Technology Officer at Capri Global Capital; Vishal Nagadiya, Chief Technology Officer at Netafim Agricultural Financing Agency; Atul Khirwadkar, GM & CEO at Kalyan Janata Sahakari Bank; P. Srinivas Rao, CIO at Kalupur Commercial Cooperative Bank and Arti Dhole, Chief Information Officer at Cosmos Bank, discuss threadbare various aspects, related with Green IT and provide their insightful vision.

IMPACTFUL INITIATIVES

Technology, on one hand, has the potential to decrease pollution by providing new ways to the organization. It aids in reducing carbon footprints with increased use of paperless technologies and online video conferencing facilities. On the other hand, extensive use of this technology generates environmental pollution due to energy guzzling devices such as datacenters, computers, servers and equipment. Such trade-off between these opposing dimensions will turn out to be positive only when the organizations take steps to reduce the environmental pollution caused by technology. Jyothirlatha B., Chief Technology Officer at Godrej Housing Finance, explains: “In last 12 months, we have been extensively working on our server and printer consolidation, virtualization and energy consumption efficiency initiatives. Our office premise has been designed in a way to reduce energy consumption, and have our group level initiatives of sourcing energy from renewable sources, and reducing specific energy consumption, etc.”

Capri Global Capital strives towards collective progress and wellbeing. The pandemic has hastened a rise in remote working. Capri has implemented a ‘work from anywhere’ policy for its technology team and employees. It has not only helped the company provide unconventional flexibility to its team but also has helped it make progress on more sustainable business models. Rahul Agarwal, Chief Technology Officer, informs: “We have taken a conscious note that in an increasingly complex and interconnected world, rising environmental and social challenges are redefining the way we do business and how we mobilize our capital. In the last few months, we have taken voluntary commitments to adopt practices such as reducing energy consumption, recycling old equipment in an environmentally responsible manner, and taking steps to manage a company’s carbon footprint. To save more energy and be less reliant on bulky energy-consuming physical IT infrastructure, we have moved towards cloud servers. Currently, more than half of our systems are running on AWS and Azure.”

Vishal Nagadiya informs that NAFA has migrated all its data and server information on cloud

DIGITAL-FIRST POLICY

Netafim Agricultural Financing Agency (NAFA) is an NBFC that aggressively pursues a digital first policy, even while recognizing that many of its customers in semi-urban and rural areas still require physical servicing. Even as NAFA performs this balancing act, it has incorporated into its policy framework the principles of green computing. There are 2 fundamental Green IT initiatives that it has been working to usher in. One is striving for energy efficiency and the other is reducing e-waste. Vishal Nagadiya, Chief Technology Officer, says: “To achieve optimum energy efficiency, we have been coming up with incremental innovations that help us reduce the energy consumption of the electronic items. A simple example is the mandatory requirement to keep the laptop on sleep mode after 5 minutes of user inactivity.”

Another simple step is to promptly replace the defective batteries so that the users need not rely directly on the electric connection, thereby also saving a lot of electricity. Vishal adds: “More than 95% of our staff members have been given laptops as they are more efficient as compared to desktops. Besides, we have migrated all our data and server information on the cloud. For this, we have tied up with tier 4 data centers. This again helps us reduce carbon footprints as we cut down on space, air-conditioning, etc. In order to reduce e-waste, we send for scrapping only such inventory that cannot be repaired or refurbished. Hard discs and batteries will need to be scrapped but other items can often be salvaged or recycled. For instance, if the speaker or screen can be repaired or replaced, we will do that instead of scrapping the whole system.”

LESS PAPER, MORE VIDEO

Kalyan Janata Sahakari Bank has taken immense interest in implementing various Green IT initiatives. The bank has adopted green technology for last few years with specific intention to save nature and paper. Atul Khirwadkar, GM & CEO, recollects: “12 years ago we migrated to email communication internally and externally. There are no print copies of circular, but dedicated knowledge portal for entire staff to access circulars. With state-of-the-art tech initiatives at disposal, such as IMPS, net banking, balance enquiries, hot card services, statement by email, UPI, BNA, ATMs, notices via digital signage, SMS, links, own website for info on all products, online audit, loan origination for retail lending, etc, are already in place.”

According to RBI (IDRBT, 2013), green banking makes internal bank processes, physical infrastructure and information technology effective towards environment by reducing its negative impact on the environment to the minimum level. Atul updates: “In 2020, we started all meetings, internal as well as with customers on Zoom audio visual method. This ensured compliance of all covid guidelines as also ensured that the business remains uninterrupted. Thus, virtual meetings were the find during the times of distress. Green pin through ATM was another key initiative introduced by the bank along with bill payment facility for customers.”

The Kalupur Commercial Cooperative Bank has revamped the data centre to put in place energy efficient equipment and cooling systems to reduce power consumption. P. Srinivas Rao, CIO, indicates: “Our bank has been replacing desktops with thin clients and LED monitors at branches to reduce power consumption. Thin clients are physically smaller than traditional PCs and have minimal resources such as CPU and memory with no / minimal local storage and, with a very cut down operating system (Windows 10 IOT). They consume much less power than a traditional desktop. They are typically used to connect to virtual desktops and apps running in the data centre. Though in our instance, there is no virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) set up. About 350+ desktops have been replaced with thin clients. We have WFH solution in place to enable staff to work from home whenever required.”

Green IT is important because IT is responsible for about 17% of the world’s electronic waste and around 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions. This means that IT contributes to environmental degradation because the majority of all e-waste is dumped in countries, where regulations are less strict and because electricity, generated by fossil fuels, causes global warming. The impactful green IT initiatives in Cosmos Bank during the last 12-18 months are many, like green pin, server consolidation, online e-mandate and cash recycler kiosk. Arti Dhole, Chief Information Officer, describes: “Printing of PIN mailer and dispatching the same through courier is a time consuming as well as costly affair. The bank has introduced the Green PIN concept under which the customer can change their PIN on the go with any channel like ATM or internet banking or mobile banking. It is saving customer time, our cost, time for pin printing, handling, security, dispatch, etc. Customer has a more convenience as they can set their PIN as own on ATM without hurdles of visiting branch in the counter time.”

Rahul Agarwal states that currently more than half of Capri Global Capital’s systems are running on AWS and Azure

SUSTAINABLE COMPUTING

Green IT refers to environmentally sustainable computing. The goal of green computing is to maximize energy efficiency during the product’s lifetime, and design algorithms and systems for efficiency-related computer technologies. One of the steps towards Green IT is server virtualization. Arti states: “We have started server consolidation using VMWare virtualization technology. This technology enables IT to reduce the number of physical servers and combine them into single hardware. It also enables high availability, easy recovery in case of hardware failure and quick implementation. We have consolidated 143+ existing physical servers into a single blade server chassis. This has reduced the requirement of procuring new servers for new applications. We have consolidated 300+ applications on VMware. Any future applications may be ported on this server with/without any upgrades to this server.

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